With the New Jersey Devils in Los Angeles tonight to take on the Kings, beat writer Tom Gulitti caught up with former Devils star Scott Niedermayer, who was at the Staples Center filming a piece for his jersey retirement ceremony. On Dec. 16, the Devils will raise Niedermayer’s No. 27 to the rafters, the third number ever retired by the club (the others are Scott Stevens’ No. 4 and Ken Danekyo’s No. 3.)
On the topic of post-retirement honors, Niedermayer made one thing clear. If — okay, when — he goes to the Hockey Hall of Fame, he wants to do it as a New Jersey Devil.
“That’s where I played the bulk of my career,” Niedermayer told the Fire & Ice blog. “That’s where I learned a lot and grew as a young professional player and was able to use that later on in my career to maybe have more success. And I guess maybe as time goes by, that (feeling for being a Devil) might become stronger.
“The fact that I played out here (in California) and retire right from the Ducks, that’s sort of your recent memories and that’s sort of where you feel a part of that team. But, as time passes and you look back and the length of time that I was in New Jersey compared to the length of time I was out here, I’m comfortable saying that (he’s a Devil).”
Niedermayer played for New Jersey from 1992-2004 — winning three Stanley Cups and his lone Norris trophy — so being enshrined as a Devil is almost an afterthought. But considering the profound effect he had on the Anaheim organization upon signing there in 2005, going in as a Duck is somewhat viable. Niedermayer won a Cup and a Conn Smythe trophy with the Ducks and recorded his highest ever single-season point total (69). He also won the Cup in Anaheim with his brother, Rob, and still works as a consultant for the club.
All that said, Niedermayer will go to the HHOF as a Devil. He’s up for eligibility in 2012 in what promises to be an outstanding field — first-time eligible players include Joe Sakic, Jeremy Roenick, Mats Sundin and Brendan Shanahan.
The Chicago Blackhawks are on edge on Saturday, and it’s not because of what’s currently a close game against the Anaheim Ducks.
(Not that they’re indifferent toward a match against their opponents from last year’s conference final match, mind you.)
Instead, the Blackhawks are quite concerned about the health of Marian Hossa, who needed help off of the ice following an awkward, scary-looking crash into the boards. (Hampus Lindholm delivered the hip check that sent Hossa sprawling, in case you’re wondering.)
Video isn’t yet available, but My Regular Face’s GIF captures that troubling moment:
It’s too early to tell if Hossa will bounce back or miss some time from this. Stay tuned for potential updates.
If it weren’t for Mike Yeo and the Minnesota Wild, you could argue that the Florida Panthers suffered from the worst night so far.
You can see that Saturday was unpleasant merely from looking at the scoreboard: the Nashville Predators pummeled the Panthers by an unkind score of 5-0.
The pain goes beyond that … literally so.
For one thing, Quinton Howden suffered an upper-body injury and did not return. That’s no good, but if you want to feel sick to your stomach, footage of Brandon Pirri‘s likely lower-body injury (ankle maybe?) may do the trick.
(Seriously, you may be happier if you don’t look.)
The Panthers didn’t make an announcement about Pirri one way or another, so we’ll see if he somehow avoided anything significant.
Either way, it was a night this team would like to forget.
It’s unlikely that Chris Stewart will generate another 30-goal season in the NHL, but he still might be missed by the Anaheim Ducks.
The team announced that the ornery forward is expected to miss four-to-eight weeks with a fractured jaw. If that’s the recovery window, Stewart may go into the playoffs a little rusty (if he can get in any regular season games at all).
The Ducks didn’t elaborate, but the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline believes that the injury happened during a fight with Dalton Prout of the Columbus Blue Jackets. You can see that brawl in the video above.
One bright side for Anaheim: if they believe that they need to replace what Stewart brings to the table (rugged play with a dash of offense), then at least this injury happened before the the Feb. 29 trade deadline.
As many expected, the Minnesota Wild will make John Torchetti their interim head coach, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo.
(He’s not the only one to report as much, as TSN’s Bob McKenzie also stated that he’s likely to take the job.)
The team itself hasn’t made an official announcement about Torchetti, and the reasoning is probably simple enough: he’s coaching their AHL affiliate the Iowa Wild on Saturday night.
Torchetti is no stranger to the NHL, although he’ll probably be frustrated if this opportunity doesn’t turn into a full-time gig. He was also an interim head coach for the Los Angeles Kings and Florida Panthers.
As of this writing, the Wild are in a three-way tie for the first spot outside of the West’s wild card mix, although they could sink a bit depending upon how Arizona and Vancouver handle the one game they have in hand on the Wild.
More importantly, Minnesota’s currently three points behind Nashville for the final wild card spot.
That’s not an impossible goal for Torchetti. For whatever it’s worth, Sports Club Stats gives Minnesota a 34.7 percent chance to make the playoffs.
(Note: photo via the Iowa Wild.)